1. Roundly outplayed, roundly outcoached.
Just a good old fashioned butt kicking all around. It was a hugely disappointing effort; a 34-6 beatdown at home against an average team is disheartening no matter the postseason implications, but this one was even more depressing because of what was at stake. The Vikings desperately needed a win to give them a chance at the playoffs. Instead, they didn’t even show up.
I don’t know what else to say about this game. With these Monday morning posts, I generally try to stay away from recapping the games, and instead aim to put what happened into context. After such a lopsided effort, that’s tough to do. It was the nail in the coffin for the 2016 season, and it happened in pathetic fashion. That’s the whole story. That’s it.
But after being so thoroughly beaten in scheme, preparation, and execution, there is bound to be anger and finger-pointing. Vikings nation will rightfully be asking pointed questions about the direction of the franchise and the future of the roster. Here’s mine: is Mike Zimmer really the franchise-changing, generational coach we’ve talked ourselves into believing he is? Because after some of the things we’ve seen this year, I’m wondering if we weren’t a little too quick to tag him as a transformational figure and defensive savant.
With all the injuries and madness, I’m willing to give Zimmer a mulligan on this season’s final record. I think we all are. But, record aside, there have been a number of alarming things that have happened on the field in 2016 that simply do not happen to well-coached teams. Zimmer has repeatedly mismanaged the clock at the end of halves. The defense has gone from fearsome in the first six games to slightly above average thereafter. The team has been outschemed by opposing coaches (e.g. Colts, Lions) at least as many times as Zimmer & Co. have put together effective gameplans (e.g. Cowboys, Giants). And too often, the Vikings have dramatically underperformed against average or inferior competition (Bears, Colts, etc.).
These are simply not things good teams do. I’m not saying the Vikings should be leading the division or making the playoffs—with what they’ve had to deal with, a .500 record seems pretty reasonable. And the effect Zimmer has had on the Vikings has been overwhelmingly positive since his arrival. He is a good coach. But shouldn’t yet elevate him to the ranks of “great,” at least not until the team stops committing dumb penalties, making simple mistakes, and flopping in winnable games and big spots.
I hope Mike Zimmer is the guy to lead the Vikings for decades, and to bring home many division championships and deep playoff runs. We’ve assumed until now he has what it takes, but we need to pump the brakes until we see the team drastically cut down on aforementioned mistakes. The next twelve months will be very telling in that regard.
2-5. Four tweets that sum up Sunday’s debacle.
Time to start writing about free agency and the Draft.
— Vikings Territory (@vikingterritory) December 18, 2016
Again, against an offensive line starting three rookies. At home. With their season on the line. https://t.co/1KTN2aUYNY
— The Daily Norseman, a Minnesota Vikings blog (@DailyNorseman) December 18, 2016
Now all the "LOL the Vikings traded a 1st and 4th for Sam Bradford" takes will officially take off and everything will be terrible
— Drew Mahowald (@DrewMahowald) December 18, 2016
— Adam Patrick (@Str8_Cash_Homey) December 18, 2016
- Kai Forbath is now 12-12 on field goals since joining the Vikings. Cutting Walsh and signing him was the right call.
- The return of Adrian Peterson added nothing, but what did you expect? The team isn’t last in the league in rushing because McKinnon and Asiata are awful players. Much bigger factors are at play here.
- I would not be upset if the Vikings used every one of their 2017 draft picks on offensive linemen. This is not hyperbole.